The night before I left New Zealand, I had a full on panic attack. I said good night to my flatmates, brushed my teeth, and went to bed, only to all of a sudden find it difficult to breathe. I knew I had to try and sleep, as I had to be up at 4 AM to get to the airport, but I started to sweat, and my chest felt tight, and for a moment I didn’t know where I was. I started to spiral into my usual thoughts of self-doubt and what am I doing with my life. I knew I was getting on that plane, but what was I going towards?
My first flight from Wellington to Sydney is a nice one. I listen to music, drink my coffee, and watch the sunrise. Flying is still such an amazing thing to me, and seeing the sunrise from a plane never gets old. Always an early riser, I enjoy the dreamy quality of seeing the sun come up on the horizon, and from a plane, you feel like you’re watching the entire world wake up and try again, much like I hope to do.
I feel like I’m always in transit, in every sense of the word. It’s something I’m not really sure how to explain to people. I envy those who pursue one goal single mindedly, carving out a path with clear steps and vision. I’m not that way, I never have been. I love having options and I’m curious about a lot of different things. I know that if I gave all of my energy to something, I’d be really great at it, but often I find myself unable to take a step in any one direction, for fear that it might not be the right thing for me. As I said before, I am self-conscious and insecure about this. It’s a quality that I find frustrating, and I know that others do too. That others find it frustrating makes me even more self-conscious yet defensive about it. Sometimes I get the feeling that people think I’m doing life all wrong. That I’m impulsive, and that being all over the map is fine, until it’s not fine. It’s fine when you’re 22, but 28 is well-past the expiration date for such indecision. When am I going to get my life together? When am I going to commit to something? When am I going to XYZ?
I wander through the Sydney airport for a bit. It’s a massive place, and even though I haven’t visited Australia, I poke through the gift shop in search of anything that might make a good gift. Sadly, I don’t know anyone who really would like or want a stuffed koala or a tube of dreaded Vegemite, so I move on. The flight from Sydney to San Francisco is long, and god it is hot on the plane. The air is blasting, but I am miserably uncomfortable. The discomfort is lessened by the presence of free alcohol. Pleasantly surprised by that, I have
three two glasses of wine and watch The Lion King on my little screen, and start to cry audibly throughout the film. I watch Crazy Rich Asians afterwards and think man, I want to be a crazy rich Asian.
The truth is, I find myself, right now, feeling very upside down. Chris’ death has effected me in more ways than I had anticipated, and I don’t think I’m handling it well. In fact, I kind of feel like my life is falling apart. But it’s not due to his death, so much as the grief and loss has really only exacerbated a lot of other things I have never really dealt with. All things considered, I am still in one piece for the most part. But over the last 2 months, I’ve managed to completely blow up a loving relationship, all of my goals, and wind up right back where I started, and with even less direction than I had before (which wasn’t a whole lot admittedly). I’m manic a lot of the time, talking with a stream of consciousness that never seems to cease, my thoughts and ideas jumping around like rapid fire, one after the next, without end. Emotionally, I am hanging on by a thread.
When I get to the San Francisco airport, instead of going to the gate for my flight to Nashville, I sit down and buy a Greyhound bus ticket to Phoenix. Despite having just flown across the planet for 17 hours, I think what’s 17 more? While at the bus station, I sit, legs piled on my luggage. My toes are slightly swollen from the long flight. I hit up the vending machine for my first American fare in nearly two months: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and strawberry Pop Tarts, breakfast of champions. The first leg down the insides of California is long, and miserable. The AC on the bus is broken, so everyone tries to spread out and endure the 9 hour ride. I have a nice layer of sweat coating my body by the time we get to LA, where I take a hobo shower in the bus station bathroom and change into fresh clothes.
On the one hand, I crave some stability. I’m tired of living out of a bag, and I’d like to just exist and live somewhere for a while; to exist right now and not keep planning for what’s next. I’d like to maybe make real human money for once. I’d like to have a closet. I’d like to unpack my small box labeled Future Home Stuff that has been in storage for years now. On the other hand, I know myself, and I know that I don’t want to live and die in Phoenix. If there is one thing in my life that has been consistent, it is my desire to one day live abroad permanently. I have lived abroad before, and each year that passes, new caveats are added to that goal.
I want to live abroad permanently.
I want to live abroad permanently, in a career I enjoy.
I want to live abroad permanently, in a career I enjoy, that makes me money.
I want to live abroad permanently, in a career I enjoy, that makes me money, and will get me a work visa (because nothing I have done up to now will get me one).
I’m lying down on the double seat of the bus, the red eye to Phoenix from LA. The full moon is staring squarely at me. It’s past midnight and while I’m looking at her, everything seems more confusing than before. Looking at the moon, I wish I could stay in this state of transit forever. I could ride this bus off into the sunset, because I don’t really know what I’m going towards. I don’t think I ever really have. I’ve just thrown things at the wall to see what sticks, but I don’t think that method is working for me anymore. I’d like something more, and it is time to regroup.
When I arrive in Phoenix, my old friend Gio picks me up from the station. Happy to see a familiar face, I give him a huge hug, even though I smell like a foot. He takes me to breakfast, and I have a lovely, cleansing shower before I pass out like a fallen tree for 8 hours. I stay with him for 2 days, in his very dark, cold house, which acts as a refuge of quiet stillness in the midst of my current inner chaos. We talk, catch up, and I feel a bit lightened by his presence, so lovingly kind.
I’m realising that a lot of my anxiety is wrapped up in my ideas about how things should be. My first order of business is to sign up for some therapy, something I’ve never done on my own. I have so much going on inside of me right now that I need to get straight and I think having some guidance to get my thoughts and emotions in order would be helpful. I know that I will eventually figure it all out, but I’m not sure how to dodge people’s questions. Aside from whatever I divulge on this blog, I really don’t want to discuss the deeper issues I’m having right now. I’m tired of feeling like I have to justify what I’m doing or how I live to others. I’m sure people will have their questions, and want to weigh in, but I’m frankly too tired to answer them, and more importantly, I don’t want to. I’m only just figuring this all out myself, and all I’ve got so far is that I need some counseling and the support of my friends (and ideally family too). Should anyone ask, that’s the plan. That’s all I’ve got so far, and I think that’s fine for now.